Monday, August 24, 2009

Some Definitions

Don Fortner, pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Danville, KY offers up the following definitions for some hotly debated theological terms:
Election is God's sovereign, eternal choice and determination to save some, a great multitude of Adam's fallen race. It is a free, unconditional, irreversible act of God's sovereign grace, by which the everlasting salvation of all the chosen was secured from eternity (Psalm 65:4; John 15:16; Ephesians 1:3-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).

Predestination is God's sovereign, eternal arrangement of all the affairs of the universe to secure the object of His electing love, to secure the everlasting salvation of His adopted sons and daughters. It is God's purpose, the blueprint by which He created the universe and rules it in providence. This great, blessed work of God's grace includes all things and can never be altered. This, too, is a matter of such unmistakable, clear revelation that ignorance of it is inexcusable (Acts 13:48; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11; Romans 8:29).

Redemption is the ransom of chosen sinners out from under the curse of God's broken law and offended justice by the sacrificial, substitutionary, sin-atoning death of our Lord Jesus. Redemption is the satisfaction of justice by the blood of Christ and the deliverance of God's elect from all possibility of condemnation (Ephesians 1:7; Galatians 3:13; Colossians 1:14; 1 Peter 1:18-20). The redemption of our souls by Christ's shed blood also includes and guaranteed the redemption (deliverance) of our souls from the bondage and dominion of sin (Isaiah 53:10-11), and the redemption of our bodies from the grave at the resurrection (1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:14; 4:30). All who were redeemed by the blood of Christ must and shall be saved by God's grace in him.

Regeneration is the new birth, the actual deliverance of chosen, redeemed sinners from spiritual death into spiritual life by the effectual power and irresistible grace of God the Holy Spirit (John 3:8; Ephesians 2:1-4; Colossians 2:10-13). It is a resurrection from spiritual death to spiritual, eternal life in Christ by the Spirit of God.

Providence is the glorious, though mysterious, sovereign rule of the universe by our God for the salvation of His people and the praise, honor and glory of His own great name (Romans 8:28; 11:36; Ephesians 1:11). Providence is God working out in time what He purposed in eternity. Nothing is more comforting, nothing inspires boldness and nothing gives peace like a good understanding of and a confident faith in God's election, predestination, redemption, regeneration and providence.
I could not have said it any better.

If you are interested you can find sermons by Pastor Fortner at Sermon Audio.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

This may be the question that I hear most often asked as an objection to the Christian faith, so let's take a look at this and see what we can learn about why bad things happen to good people.

There are actually several ways that we can approach this, but I would like to look at it from two perspectives:

1. How do we determine what is good or bad?
2. Do bad things really happen to good people?

When we look at this issue we must first determine if what we think is a bad actually is bad. Don't misunderstand, something can be tragic and cause us pain, but does that alone make it a bad thing? In Romans chapter 8 we read:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Romans 8:28-29
According to these verses, everything that occurs in the life of God's people is there for one reason and one reason only - to conform us to the image of Christ. If God has determined that everything we experience in this life will work for our good do we really have the right to say whether it is good or bad?

In the Old Testament when we read the story of Joseph we see this principle in action. In Joseph's teenage years he was sold into slavery by his own brothers, and then later he was falsely accused of trying to rape his master's wife and was thrown into prison. While he was in prison for a crime that he didn't commit he helped someone who promised in return to help him but didn't, and Joseph remained in prison.

Later on in Joseph's life we see that everything that happened to him was actually orchestrated by God to bring about the deliverance of His people. So I ask you the question, was what happened to Joseph good or bad? Before you answer that question look at these verses from Genesis chapter 50:
But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
Genesis 50:19-21
As you can see here, all of the evil that was done against Joseph was all part of God's plan and what seemed like bad things was actually good because God was in it. So to the person who asks why bad things happen to good people I will ask in return, who says they were bad things?

Secondly, in order to answer the question of why do bad things happen to good people we must first answer the question, do bad things really happen to good people?

Romans tells us that no one is good - not even one. Look at these verses from Romans chapter 3:
as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.
“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.
“The venom of asps is under their lips.
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.
“Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Romans 3:10-18
This is not the picture of a "good" person, and yet this is how the Bible describes all of us. And then we arrogantly question the goodness of God when things happen that we perceive as being bad, and then we ask why do bad things happen to good people. As we saw above in the first point, God is sovereign over all of the events of our lives and He promises that every one of them is being used by Him to mold us into the image of Christ. And in the letter of James we read:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
James 1:17
Did you catch that, Every good gift is from God. And since we do not have the ability to discern what is good or what is bad we must put our trust in our good God and the promises that He has given us.

So the next time someone asks you why bad things happen to good people, point them to the Scriptures and ask them in return, Why do good things happen to anybody?

There can only be one answer: we have a great and awesome God who is working everything out for our ultimate good - our conformity to the image of Christ - and for His glory.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Gospel Of Mark, Part 5 - Jesus Calls

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
Mark 1:16-20
As we return to our study of Mark's Gospel we read of the account of Jesus calling His first disciples. as we read this account we see that the first four men that Jesus called to follow Him were not the religious leaders of the day; they were not rabbis, they were not the Pharisees, they were common laborers. We read that Simon and Andrew were casting their nets into the sea, for they were fishermen. We also read that James and John were in their boats mending nets.

These were not influential men, they were just common blue collar workers, but this is who Jesus called to follow Him. And we are told that they immediately left their nets, their families, their boats, their livelihood - they left everything - and they followed Is this how we respond to Jesus? When God shows us something in His word do we immediately obey? Do we leave everything without hesitation and do what He asks? These men did, and they left an example for us to follow.

Next look at what Jesus called them to do: He called them to follow Him, and He called them to a life of bringing others into a relationship with Him. I want to look at each of these individually because this not only applied to Simon, Andrew, James, and John - these same callings apply to us today as well.

Called to follow Jesus

The first thing that Jesus calls us to do is follow Him. We cannot obey Him in anything that He asks of us until we first decide to answer His call and follow Him. But what does Jesus mean when He calls us to follow Him? We read in the Gospel of Luke:
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Luke 9:23
Of this verse John MacArthur writes:
Self-denial was a common thread in Christ’s teaching to his disciples. The kind of self-denial He sought was not a reclusive asceticism, but a willingness to obey His commandments, serve one another, and suffer - perhaps even die - for His sake.
(John MacArthur,The MacArthur Study Bible, Luke 9:23)
This is exactly what Jesus is calling us to today as well. When we follow Him we are giving up our life in exchange for His life; as His follower we are no longer live for ourselves we now live for Him. We live to obey Him, to serve one another, and yes even to die if necessary. Which brings us to the next part of our study.

A call to evangelism

When Jesus called these men to come after Him, He said, "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men." Of this calling J.C. Ryle writes:
The meaning of this expression is clear and unmistakable. The disciples were to become fishers for souls. They were to labor to draw men out of darkness into light, and from the power of Satan to God. They were to strive to bring men into the net of Christ's church, that so they might be saved alive, and not perish everlastingly.
(J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume 1, Mark, Page 10)
This is the same thing that Jesus has called all of His disciples to do - you and me included:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20
And if this is what Jesus has instructed us to do, are you doing it? Are you purposely and intentionally striving to make disciples of all men? Do you share the gospel with those you know; do you talk about Jesus with your friends and family? That is the privilege Jesus has given to each and every one of us - to introduce the people we know (and even some we don't know) to Him.

How are you doing? Are you introducing people to Jesus? Let me leave you with one final thought from Bishop Ryle:
Does the fisherman strive to catch fish? Does he use all means, and grieve if unsuccessful? Does the fisherman have patience? Does he toil on day after day, and wait, and work on in hope? Happy is that man, in whom the fisher's skill, and diligence, and patience, are all combined.
(J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume 1, Mark, Page 10)
So my challenge to you today is this: If you have never followed after Jesus then today is the day to Repent of your sin and turn to Him in faith. When you do this He will save you. And if you are already His follower then I challenge you to share your faith with someone today; you never know, you just might be the one that God uses to bring them "into the net of Christ's church."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Revelation Chapter 5, Part 3 - The Shouting Hosts

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Revelation 5:11-14
Verse eleven of Revelation chapter five begins with John once again telling us that he saw something; this is the fourth time in this chapter that he has used these words (see verses 1,2, and 6), and here what he says is that he looked and he heard many angels around the throne join in the worship that he has been watching unfold in the throne room of heaven.

John tells us that there were many angels and then he says their number was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands. The Greek word here is muriás, which “denotes an indefinite, large number.”1 One of the Synonyms for this word in Greek is anaríthmētos, which means innumerable. So what John is saying here is that there were so many angels in heaven worshiping God that they could not be counted. MacDonald and Farstad write:
The chorus widened as many angels joined the living creatures and the elders, a choir numbering millions, perhaps billions, all participating in perfect harmony. 2
Then as we come to verse twelve we see yet another song of worship to the Lamb. The choir of innumerable angels, the four living creatures, and the twenty-four elders began to say:
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.
If you have ever wondered what heaven will be like here is a perfect picture; here we see Jesus, the Lamb of God, being worshiped, and for all eternity our greatest joy and pleasure will be to join this choir and just worship Jesus.

Notice here that the song begins by identifying Jesus as worthy because He was slain, and once again showing that it was by His death that He purchased His bride and redeemed His creation. The song then goes on to list seven (the number of completeness and perfection) things that Jesus is worthy to receive: power, riches, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessing. It should also be noted that in Greek these seven words:
[A]re all ranged under the one Greek article, to mark that they form one complete aggregate belonging to God and His co-equal, the Lamb. 3
To really appreciate what is being said here we need to look back to the second chapter of Philippians where we read:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11
In this passage we see the humility of Christ on earth, but now we see Him exalted above all. Warren Wiersbe writes:
He shared in the sinless weaknesses of humanity as He hungered, thirsted, and became weary. Today in glory, He possesses all strength. On earth, He experienced humiliation and shame as sinners ridiculed and reviled Him. They laughed at His kingship and attired Him in a mock robe, crown, and scepter. But all of that is changed now! He has received all honor and glory! 4
Then in verse thirteen all of creation joins in the worship, just as the Father had promised His Son in Philippians. Revelation 5:13 tells us that everything in creation will worship God; it says, "every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them.” This means that even as they reject Him, those who are experiencing the judgment and wrath of God will bring Him glory. In the end every knee will bow and everyone in all of creation will confess that Jesus is Lord, and they will acknowledge once and for all that to Him alone belongs blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.

As this chapter ends we once again see the throne room of heaven filled with worship for this great and awesome God. The four living creatures keep saying Amen which is a transliteration of the Hebrew āmēn, and it means, “to be firm, steady, truthworthy.”5 In essence they are saying let it be or make it happen. And the elders again fall down and worship.

So what did we learn from this chapter? Lawrence Richards sums it up well when he writes:
Perhaps we have been so filled with wonder at a God who loves us and gave Himself for us that we tend to miss an important reality. Though God in Jesus gave Himself for us, He remains the center of the universe. It is God, not man, for whom all things were and are created. It is His glory, not our glorification that is important. As the Westminster Catechism states, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." We must never neglect this reality or come to feel that somehow the chief end of God is to glorify man! We must never measure what happens or what is described in the Book of Revelation from a human viewpoint. All that occurs must be measured against who God is.6
And all creation said Amen!

1 Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.) (G3461). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
2 MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments (Re 5:11). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
3 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., Fausset, A. R., Brown, D., & Brown, D. (1997). A commentary, critical and explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. On spine: Critical and explanatory commentary. (Re 5:12). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
4 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Re 5:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
5 Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.) (G281). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
6 Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher's commentary. Includes index. (1079). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

Next time we will look at chapter six and the opening of the first of the six seals.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Paul Washer On The Doctrine Of Election

Here is a video of Paul Washer from last year's Deeper Conference answering a man who asked him to explain the doctrine of election. The audio is a little low, but this is well worth the time and effort it takes to listen.

And here is the link to the sermon series that Paul recommends:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Study Of Covenant, Part 4 - The New Covenant - Part 1

It has been centuries since Moses received the covenant on Mount Sinai, centuries since the Israelites said that they would obey God. But they hadn’t, and now they were reaping the curses that they were warned about; the consequences of breaking the covenant they had sworn to keep. They promised to obey God’s commandments, but they didn’t - they couldn’t - because no matter how hard they tried they couldn’t overcome one thing – they were sinners. They, like each of us, had a nature that cannot be controlled by desire or by will power. God knew this, He knew it when he made the covenant at Sinai, He knew it before the foundation of the world, and He had a solution.

God was about to reveal something so amazing that words can hardly describe it; God was going to make a new covenant with His people, and this covenant would be the fulfillment of all of the previous covenants; the hope mankind had been waiting for.

In the Book of Jeremiah we get the first glimpse of what was to come. In chapter 31 of Jeremiah we read the following:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Here we have the first promise of a new covenant; a covenant that is not based on external laws, but a covenant where God will write His law on our hearts. The Israelites failed to keep the covenant that God made with them at Sinai because it didn’t address the problem of sin; they could try with all of their might to keep the law, but without a change of heart they would never succeed.

Warren Wiersbe puts it this way:
Any plan for the betterment of human society that ignores the sin problem is destined to failure. It isn’t enough to change the environment, for the heart of every problem is the problem of the heart. God must change the hearts of people so that they want to love Him and do His will. That’s why He announced a New Covenant to replace the Old Covenant under which the Jews had lived since the days of Moses, a covenant that could direct their conduct but not change their character. 1
Ezekiel, a contemporary of Jeremiah, also prophesied the coming of the New Covenant.
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Ezekiel 36:25-28
According to these verses, and the verses we just read in Jeremiah, God is going to make a New Covenant. In this covenant He will remove our hard heart and replace it with a heart of flesh. In this covenant He will place His Spirit within us and give us the power to obey Him. In this covenant He will be our God and we will be His people. But when will this take place?

To answer this question lets look at the Gospel of Luke:
And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Luke 22:14-20
Looking back at our earlier discussions where we defined covenant and then looked at some of he parts of the covenant ceremony you should be starting to see this passage in different light. First of all note that this took place at Passover; to see the significance of this we need to go back to the time of the exodus and look at the first Passover, which we find in Exodus chapter 12.

In this chapter we can see that the coming New Covenant was not an after-thought for God; the coming crucifixion of the Messiah, the Seed of Abraham, is foreshadowed here in the Passover Lamb. The first thing we see here is God told Moses to have each family select a lamb, one per household. This lamb was to be without blemish and it was to be killed and eaten and the blood was to be put on the doorposts of the house in which the lamb was eaten. On the night that all of this took place God would go throughout the land and strike dead every firstborn male of any house where the blood had not been applied.

Now with this picture in mind let’s go back and look again at the verses above from Luke. The first thing that I want you to see here is that this was the fulfillment of the Passover (verse 16). John MacArthur says:
Christ’s death on the following day fulfilled the symbolism of the Passover meal. Passover was both a memorial of deliverance from Egypt, and a prophetic type of the sacrifice of Christ.2
But what we have here is more than just Jesus and His disciples sharing a Passover meal; they are sharing a covenant meal. Notice in verse 20, “ This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.” Pay attention here, this is important, Jesus just said He was establishing a new covenant with them, a covenant cut in His own blood!

But why did we need a new covenant? To understand this we need to go next to the book of Hebrews. In Hebrews chapters eight and nine we see the reason for the new covenant; let’s begin in chapter eight verse six:
But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.
Hebrews 8:6
In this verse we learn that the new covenant is a better covenant because it was enacted on better promises. What are the “better promises” that this new covenant is enacted upon? The promises that were made back in Jeremiah 31: 31-34 (and that are repeated here is Hebrews 8:8-12), these are: the promise of God’s Grace, the promise of an internal change, and the promise of the forgiveness of sin. Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.

The Promise of God’s Grace:

Under the Old Covenant the blessings promised were conditioned upon the obedience of those under that covenant. In Exodus 24:3 the Israelites said, “All the words the Lord has spoken we will do!” But they didn’t obey, and as a result they inherited the curses of the covenant. Under this new covenant the blessings are no longer dependent upon man’s obedience; notice in the Jeremiah passage God says six times “I will”: “the covenant I will make”, “I will put my law within them”, “on their heart I will write it”, “I will be their God”, “I will forgive their iniquity”, “I will remember their sin no more.” Each of these statements show the grace of God; His unmerited favor on us, and it is based not an anything we did, or can do, but it is based on His covenant with us.

Warren Wiersbe writes:
The New Covenant is wholly of God’s grace; no sinner can become a part of this New Covenant without faith in Jesus Christ. Grace and faith go together just as the Law and works go together (Rom. 11:6). The Law says, “The man that doeth them [the things written in the Law] shall live in them” (Gal. 3:12). But grace says, “The work is done—believe and live!3
The Promise of an Internal Change:

Under the old covenant the law was written on tablets of stone; under the new covenant God says that He will write His law on our hearts. The problem with the old covenant was this while it declared God’s holy standard it did not give us the power necessary to carry it out; it could tell us what we needed to do, but it could not enable us to do it.

I see this promise as two fold: first it is the promise of a new nature, and second it is the promise of the indwelling of God’s Spirit within us. By our very nature we are sinful and we cannot please God or obey Him; we just don’t have the ability. No matter how hard we try to keep His law we just can’t seem to do it, we continually fall short (Romans 3:23). So God, with His new covenant gives us a new nature, a divine nature, so that not only will we want to obey Him, now we actually can.

The second part of this promise that I see is His indwelling Holy Spirit. We don’t see this from the Jeremiah passage, but from the parallel passage in Ezekiel where God says, “I will place My Spirit within you…” Under the old covenant God’s Spirit may abide for a short time with a person, but His Spirit never indwelt them. His promise here is that He will put His Spirit within us and cause us to follow and obey Him. The apostle Paul calls this a down payment on our inheritance when he says:
In Him, you also, after listening to  the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were  sealed in Him with  the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of  our inheritance, with a view to the  redemption of  God’s own possession,  to the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 1:13-14 (NASB)
Now, with a new nature, and the Holy Spirit living within us we have an ability that we never had before, the ability to live a godly life. This was not possible under the law, because that was never the purpose of the law (more on this later).

The Promise of the Forgiveness of Sin:

Under the new covenant God promises to forgive our sins; He says, “For I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sin.” This was not possible under the law, because the Bible teaches us “by the works of the law will no flesh be justified.”4 According to R.C. Stedman:
This is, perhaps, the most difficult aspect for us to believe, for it forces us to do two difficult things: recognize that we do wicked things, and believe that God has already made ample provision to set aside that wickedness and continue treating us as his beloved children. Any sin called to our attention by our conscience needs only to be acknowledged to be set aside. Provision for God to do so justly rests on the death of Christ on our behalf, not on our sense of regret or our promise to do better.5
Here God not only promises to forgive our sins, He says that He will not remember them any more. This does not mean that God forgets them, because God cannot forget anything; if God forgot something He would cease to be God. What this is telling us is that God will no longer hold our sin against us. Warren Wiersbe says it this way:
God recalls what we have done, but He does not hold it against us. He deals with us on the basis of grace and mercy, not law and merit. Once sin has been forgiven, it is never brought before us again. The matter is settled eternally.6
Why does He do this you ask? Dr. Wiersbe goes on to say:
[This] is possible because of the cross, for there God treated His Son as though He had done it! 7
So here we see that the new covenant is based on better promises. We also see (in verse 13 of chapter 8) that the old covenant has become obsolete.
When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete.
Hebrews 8:13a (NASB)
The letter to the Hebrews was written at a time when the temple was still standing and the priests were still offering sacrifices prescribed by the covenant that was established with Moses. But the writer here is telling these young Jewish Christians that not only is there a new and better covenant, but the old covenant that has been followed for centuries is now obsolete. The Greek word translated “new” here is the word kainos which means new in quality, not new in time; in other words this new covenant is of such quality that it will never need to be replaced. So what we see here is that the old covenant has been replaced by a new and better covenant that will never grow old and never need replacing.

Moving then into chapter nine of Hebrews we see the author making an argument for the superiority of the new covenant to the old. He begins in verses 1-10 by reminding them (and us) of the regulations set up for worship under the old covenant. He talks about the tabernacle and the utensils used in worship and then he concludes by talking about the ministry of the high priest and how he was only able to enter the inner part of the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, or Most Holy Place, once a year. In verse eight we are told that the way into the holy of holies had not yet been disclosed, but he says in verse eleven, when Jesus appeared as our Great High Priest, the High Priest of the new covenant, He entered the Holy Place not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood having obtained eternal redemption, the forgiveness of sin.

Under the old covenant the high priest was only able to enter the inner most part of the tabernacle, the place where God dwelled, once a year on the day of atonement. And then he was only able to enter with blood offered on behalf of himself, his family, and the people. What this passage is telling us is that the way to God was restricted under the old covenant, but look at what Hebrews 4:16 says
Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,
Hebrews 4:16
Why can we approach the throne of grace with boldness? According to Hebrews 10:19 it is because of the blood of Jesus. This passage goes on to say that He has inaugurated a way through the curtain into the Holy Place, the very presence of God. This passage continues:
let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:22-23
Our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience; just like the promise of Jeremiah 31:34, “their sins I will remember no more.” Under the new covenant we can come boldly to the throne of grace, into the Most Holy Place, because Jesus has paid the price once and for all with the sacrifice of His body. Our sins are forgiven and God will not bring them up again. He has made a covenant and it cannot be canceled; we, who have come into a relationship with Him through Jesus, have become His covenant partners, He has written His law on our hearts and has forgiven our sins.

Next time we will wrap up our study of Covenant by looking at the covenant symbolism we find in the establishment of the New Covenant.

1 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1995). Be decisive. An Old Testament study. (Je 31:31). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
2 MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Study Bible. Ó1997 Word Publishing. Pg 1559. Luke 22:16
3 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Heb 8:6). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
4 Romans 3:20
5 Stedman, R. C. (1992). Hebrews. The IVP New Testament commentary series (Heb 8:7). Downers Grove, Ill., U.S.A.: InterVarsity Press.
6 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Heb 8:6). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
7 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Heb 8:6). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.